Monday, 23 March 2009

mystical borobudur and a still under repair prambanan...

Monday 23rd March 2009
most people's main purpose in visiting Jogjakarta, is to pay a visit to these two very different religious monuments. one buddhist, the other hindu...



Borobudur is a ninth-century Mahayana Buddhist monument in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia. The monument comprises six square platforms topped by three circular platforms, and is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. A main dome, located at the center of the top platform, is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues seated inside perforated stupa.
The monument is both a shrine to the Lord Buddha and a place for Buddhist pilgrimage. The journey for pilgrims begins at the base of the monument and follows a path circumambulating the monument while ascending to the top through the three levels of Buddhist cosmology, namely Kāmadhātu (the world of desire), Rupadhatu (the world of forms) and Arupadhatu (the world of formlessness). During the journey the monument guides the pilgrims through a system of stairways and corridors with 1,460 narrative relief panels on the wall and the balustrades.
Evidence suggests Borobudur was abandoned following the fourteenth century decline of Buddhist and Hindu kingdoms in Java, and the Javanese conversion to Islam. Worldwide knowledge of its existence was sparked in 1814 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the then British ruler of Java, who was advised of its location by native Indonesians. Borobudur has since been preserved through several restorations. The largest restoration project was undertaken between 1975 and 1982 by the Indonesian government and UNESCO, following which the monument was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Borobudur is still used for pilgrimage; once a year Buddhists in Indonesia celebrate Vesak at the monument, and Borobudur is Indonesia's single most visited tourist attraction.



Prambanan is the largest Hindu temple compound in Central Java in Indonesia, located approximately 18 km east of Yogyakarta.
The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the largest Hindu temples in south-east Asia. It is characterised by its tall and pointed architecture, typical of Hindu temple architecture, and by the 47m high central building inside a large complex of individual temples.
It was built around 850 CE by either Rakai Pikatan, king of the second Mataram dynasty, or Balitung Maha Sambu, during the Sanjaya Dynasty. Not long after its construction, the temple was abandoned and began to deteriorate. Reconstruction of the compound began in 1918. The main building was completed in around 1953. Much of the original stonework has been stolen and reused at remote construction sites. A temple will only be rebuilt if at least 75% of the original stones are available, and therefore only the foundation walls of most of the smaller shrines are now visible and with no plans for their reconstruction.
The temple was damaged during the earthquake in Java in 2006. Early photos suggest that although the complex appears to be structurally intact, damage is significant. Large pieces of debris, including carvings, were scattered over the ground. The temple has been closed to the public until damage can be fully assessed. The head of Yogyakarta Archaeological Conservation Agency stated that: "it will take months to identify the precise damage". However, some weeks later in 2006 the site re-opened for visitors. The immediate surroundings of the Hindu temples remain off-limits for safety reasons.

borobudur still holds a special place in my heart...i find it such a place of peace and tranquility and totally loved every moment of being there when i first visited it and again on this trip. the mist as you arrive and make your way up to it, creates this sense of mysticism and it is surrounded by incredible forest and a beautiful park. the monument has been very well restored and taken care of and so much has been preserved, especially the relief and one feels so awed, so dwarfed, by its' magnificent splendour. a very magical place that one shouldn't miss...

prambanan has suffered greatly from the effects of the earthquake. when i was there 10 years ago, people could walk up to each of the temples and go inside. now they are mostly off-limits and the majority of the complex is surrounded by a metal gate and scaffolding is evident around many of the temples. even the restoration work itself seems to be taking painstakingly long (unlike at borobudur where the stones are all engraved with symbols so that they can always be matched up again) the stones at prambanan that have been repaired seem mismatched and like they have been put in places they do not belong. such a shame that such a beautiful complex cannot be injected with the funding it needs so that it can be lovingly restored to its former glory...
nevertheless, you should definitely make these two incredible monuments to different religions a stop if travelling to Jogja...
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